According to Olivia Irvine Dodge, the Library was the room most used by her family. The Irvine’s loved to read, and the room was filled with the latest books and periodicals. The family was also one of the first in St. Paul with a “wireless” (radio) which they purchased between 1921 and 1924. The kids were allowed to listen to after their homework was done. On Sunday nights, they loved to listen to Bing Crosby, whom, their father predicted, would “never last six weeks.”
Later, Clotilde Irvine would welcome her granddaughter Patty Fobes Scott home from school in this room, and never failed to notice when Patty’s make-up was applied more heavily than it had been before. “The lectures generally ensued before I could even cross the threshold.”
One of our goals at the Governor’s Residence is to retain the historic integrity of the home while making it a comfortable place for a modern family to live. A great example of how we achieve that goal is the trunk in the corner of the room. The trunk was built to hide a full size television that rises up when a remote button is pushed. Another feature of this room is a rent table that has a round top that turns 360 degrees. The table has eight drawers, which were originally used by landlords to hold leases for tenants.
During different eras, the use of this room has shifted between private space and ceremonial use. Some governors have used this space as a home office. Governor Carlson hosted press conferences here. Other governors have used it for quiet reading or TV watching.
The walls are done in an oak wainscoting that was lightened to match the front hall and then returned to the current shade in 1996. The rough plaster walls are painted in a method called Padding. Three shades of paint are applied and blended to make the parchment colored walls have greater depth and texture. This style was popular in the 1920s. The bookcases and fireplace are original as is the ceiling with oak beams and plaster panels. The fireplace opening is fashioned with a Tudor arch and made of white stone. The wall sconces and chandelier are original to the home.